Archive for Monday, January 26, 2015

Politicizing local elections would be a big mistake

January 26, 2015

By this time everyone is probably tired of politics. It seems to be a never-ending activity; no more had the mid-term elections been over in November than the elbowing for position for the 2016 race started. It won’t be long before the airways are polluted with a barrage of negative advertising.

I think that this leads to the voter apathy that we have, and that is unfortunate because in a few short weeks we’ll have what I believe is an extremely important set of local elections. In April voters will select city and school board members. To me these are extremely important choices. Local elected officials touch our lives daily.

The filing deadline was Tuesday and the races are set. It won’t be long before yard signs are popping up in Bonner Springs, Edwardsville and Basehor. For the voters it is time to start studying the issues and candidates. In local elections, your vote is critical. In Bonner Springs during the past elections, several races have been decided by two votes and a couple of others by seven or less votes.

City government is responsible for a myriad of services. These include public safety, streets, utilities, snow removal, trash pick-up and quality of life issues. The city directs recreational programs for all ages ranging from youth to senior citizens. Bonner Springs also has a top quality senior citizens center and operates a unique and popular community band. One of the major tasks of city government is to market the community and attract new businesses and residential development. Competition is very heavy for new businesses and industry. Unfortunately, cities that do not grow wither and die.

We all know how important education is to the future of our nation. Those who win seats on the board of education races will face a daunting task of maintaining quality education with less money. They may even have the thankless task of raising taxes to ensure that all young people receive the best possible educational opportunities.

Those who serve do it for the love of the community, certainly not for money. It takes time and on occasion a thick skin, as it is a challenging job.

Local elections are non-partisan, which means you don’t have to have the blessing of a central party committee. In the case of city elections, you file at the city clerk’s office for a fee of $10. School board candidates file at the Election Commissioner’s office.

Unfortunately, there are some in Topeka who want to change all that. There is a movement to require candidates to represent a political party, and that would be a big mistake. The last thing we need is more partisan elections. In addition, they would like to move the date for the local elections to November to coincide with the state and national balloting. This, in my opinion, would be a major mistake, since the advertising and fervor for the state and national voting would bury city elections. It is touted as a way to save money, but I think the loss of voter interest in local issues would outweigh any small reduction in costs. I sincerely hope that the legislature will reject this ill thought through idea.

What is important now is for all of us to study the issues and select the candidates who will work for the entire community and the interests of all residents. We need to know who we are voting for and what their stands are on local issues. This is a time when we need to elect the best leaders and it is our duty to take part in the election by voting. This is your chance to make your voice heard.

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